To work qualitatively means to create appropriate social environments.
Quality can only be achieved through co-responsibility.
Quality management for human relationships
When people are directly at the service of others, the shape of their relationship and the importance of taking into account individual needs become paramount. The social environment and social processes provide the foundation. "Ways to Quality" makes these visible and identifies potential for improvement.
The importance of our image of man for the design of social processes grows to the extent to which people are themselves professionally active, such as in education, curative education or social therapy. In all these fields, general social questions of the day, e.g. public funding, overlap with the personal life experience and individual development of the people concerned.
Working from person to person
This is not always stress-free. While social rules should apply to all and therefore be predominantly normative, in the encounters and relationships between human beings we need to be creative and inventive. Quality work for a task community entails developing the right social environment in which such "relationship services" can thrive.
Work with people is not a production process
In the 1990s the demand came to apply the quality assurance and management practices normal in the economic-technological-industrial world to social institutions. The insight that working with people is not in essence a production process made it necessary methodically and systematically to describe, illustrate and develop an alternative course of action. The need to create open and at the same time responsible spaces for individual creative achievements drew attention away from outcomes to creating the right conditions, passing from the centre to the periphery.
Twelve distinct influences
What forces are acting together in the life of a task community so that it can fulfil its mission? Research eventually identified twelve distinct influences whose creative powers were carefully examined and described in terms of their quality and applicability. In order that these twelve influences could be socially and harmoniously effective, seven process steps have been developed.
Two examples illustrate the approach. One concerns the benefit for working together of shared understanding of the task. Where this is missing or weak, misunderstandings, errors and conflicts arise. When there is no link to the founding purpose of the community it becomes necessary to standardise the services in order to ensure fulfilment of its task (delivery of its service). It is precisely here that we need to be creative. "Ways to Quality" shows possibilities for understanding, deepening, and continuously maintaining the task in hand.
Creating together out of individuality
A second example concerns how on the one side the potential for creative action on the part of employees can be encouraged and made effective, while on the other the actions of individuals are enabled to serve the whole. Through ‘dynamic delegation’, this problem is solved by the fact that the delegation process entails regular collegial consultation and reflection processes.
It is also evident that modern forms of cooperation require new behaviours that do not readily derive from the past. "Ways to Quality” argues that conscious care and handling of their affairs simultaneously creates a necessary learning and development process for the people involved, without whose co-responsibility the desired quality of task performance cannot be achieved.
No preconceived forms, but pointers to the way
"Ways to Quality" does not work with preconceived forms, but opens the way to the forces underlying living forms. Ranging from kindergartens to nursing homes, to date about 250 institutions in different countries have adopted this approach to varying degrees. Because of its internal consistency and replicable methodology the procedure has also been adopted by the Swiss Accreditation Service for use in other management systems. Under the name Confidentia an internationally accredited auditing and certification process is now available.